In 2017 the Padres played an exhibition game against their Single-A affiliate the Storm at the Diamond in Lake Elsinore. I ran into General Manager A.J. Preller in the bathroom and we talked about the three Rule 5 draftees that were about to make the Opening Day roster (Luis Torrens, Miguel Diaz and Allen Cordoba).
Yes, just like the author of this story, A.J. will talk baseball with anyone at any time in any place.
The explanation was for the Padres to take their lumps at the big league level so they could keep the young talent in the system. That's how desperate they were for organizational depth at the time.
In 2020 things are very, very different for the Padres.
On Friday they added three players to their 40-man roster to protect them from exposure to the Rule 5 Draft: INF Tucupita Marcano (their 8th-ranked prospect according to MLB.com), RHP Reggie Lawson (10th) and RHP Mason Thompson. To make room they designated for assignment RHP Luis Perdomo, himself a Rule 5 pickup in 2016.
That means they've left no fewer than six of their Top-30 prospects exposed to the rest of the 29 Major League clubs:
17) OF Tirso Ornelas
19) IF Esteury Ruiz
23) RHP Lake Bachar
26) RHP Pedro Avila
28) INF Eugy Rosario
29) INF Jordy Barley
In a very simplified explanation, teams can select any of them and bring them to Spring Training. Those players must be held on the big league roster for the entire 2021 season or be offered back to the Padres for a small fee.
The only one on the list with big league experience is Avila, who made a start in 2019 and allowed just one run in 5.1 innings against the Diamondbacks. He's now recovering from Tommy John surgery and expected to return some time in 2021.
The bad news is it's likely that at least one, probably more, of them will be coveted by other teams. The good news is the Padres have enough depth in the system that even their 2nd-tier prospects are coveted by other teams.
They've come a long way since the Lake Elsinore bathroom.
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